How to Handle an Alzheimer's Patient Who Wants More Sex

Q. As my husband’s Alzheimer’s progresses, he grows more and more interested in sex, as well as more aggressive. Am I being selfish when I reject his advances?

A. Some individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias become hypersexual and sexually aggressive. They may make increased demands for sex, more than an overburdened caregiver can meet. They may also not remember how or where to deal with their sexual desire, resulting in wanting sex in inappropriate places or situations.

If you do not wish to engage in sexual activity, try to redirect your husband to masturbation or distract him by suggesting another activity like taking a walk. Be sure to be as gentle and kind as possible when deflecting unwanted sexual advances. Also, be alert to situations that may arouse sexual feelings, such as undressing in front of your spouse or sleeping in the same room.

Keep in mind that some people with dementia may express a desire for sex when all they really want is to be touched, so make sure the person has enough nonsexual physical contact—such as embracing or holding hands—throughout the day.